Saturday, September 6, 2008

WHY ATTACK COMMUNITY ORGANIZING?
Sarah Palin/Bush's ghost's jab was a cynical, mean sucker punch

SUCKER PUNCH. I am still mulling over Sarah Palin's coarse comments about community organizing. I hope to make a fuller response later. The words Palin read from the teleprompter were written by George W. Bush's top speech writer. How's that for the promise of change, reform, and a new day in Washington, folks? The speech prepared for Palin was shot through with cynicism, inaccuracy, negative innuendo, and carefully-calculated misleading. That's par for the Bush Administration course. But Palin/Bush's ghost went off the below-the-belt chart when she/he attacked Barack Obama's work in community organizing as inconsequential. Where did that come from? Why did she/he feel like that would score cheap political points?

CLUELESS ABOUT COMMUNITY ORGANIZING. I am a community organizer. I have invested my adult life as a Christian minister in struggling urban neighborhoods. I've worked with folks who have been dumped on, downsized, abused, blamed, violated, written off, left behind, abandoned and, now, mocked. It's the kind of work most politicos can't stomach. It's the kind of milieu that would eat the likes of a Sarah Palin alive (even if she brought her moose-hunting gun). It is clear Palin and her speech writer are clueless about the nature and power of community organizing.

RENEWING A FOCUS. I've already forgiven Palin/Bush's ghost for the low blow. But the comment has indicated to me a need to lift up the critical role community organizing has had--and will have in the future--in engaging people and transforming communities. If communities are going to be saved, it's not going to be from would-be leaders who mock the tide-turning efforts of ordinary citizens in all-but hidden urban neighborhoods. They will be changed when these folks find a heart in broader levels of leadership that resonates with their grassroots struggles. Check back on Bikehiker in coming weeks for follow-up posts.

Here's an interesting response to Palin's attack.

I welcome your comments and/or questions in the spirit of dialog. Share yours by clicking on "comments" just below. They're moderated only to reduce incivility. Shalom!

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